Monday, September 07, 2009

Sideline Cut

Yeah, a lot of you will feel cheated by that title, as this post is not about hurling. I would have liked to have seen the All-Ireland yesterday but a second trip to an Irish pub in eighteen hours didn't appeal to me. I believe it was a good match and unfortunately Tipp failed at the last in a valiant attempt to level the contemporary equivalent of Cullen's hound, the Kilkenny Cat.

Apologies but I'm sticking to the garrison game, for a brief look at some storied from the margins of Saturday's World Cup qualifiers. Ireland's main rivals for the top place in Group 7, Italy won in Tbilisi the other night, winning with two own-goals from Milan centre-half Kakha Kaladze, prompting a few cynical Irishmen to smell a rat. Kaladze has apologised to his fellow countrymen, but a series of Chinese whispers brings the news from a Georgian newspaper via an Italian press agency via L'Équipe that some in Georgia think that Kaladze 'has done to Georgia what Georgia did to him', a rather grisly and crass reference to the kidnapping and eventual murder of his brother Levan. It all sounds like a football narrative crafted by Edgar Allan Poe but the Georgians are missing the point here. It's the boys in green that were the real victims here.

France's ramshackle team of potential world-beaters edged towards a play-off place (I can't see them beating Serbia on Wednesday), helped along only because they are blessed with a group of mediocre teams mercifully more incompetent than they themselves are. Raymond Domenech, the stargazer who has clearly got something compromising on record about the denizens of the French Football Federation, had a go at his team the eve of Saturday's draw against Saturday. A shocked Thierry Henry went on the counter-attack, saying 'I have been in the France team for 12 years and never have I been in this situation. We do not know how to play, where to go, there is no organisation. There is no style, no guidance and no identity," thereby coming to the same conclusion that any football fan with a pair of eyes has reached watching France over the past three years (and arguably longer - Domenech's star-crossed nemesis Robert Pires said France's reaching the 2006 World Cup final was an 'accident'). All this is according to the Parisian tabloid, Le Parisien, which is neither trashy enough, offensive enough nor dumb enough to really pass for a tabloid. No source was given and everyone's now rushing to deny it all. Well, they would, wouldn't they?